Olympic Hotel Bookings Lower Than Same Time Last Year

While the recently concluded Olympics games in London saw a surge of visitors to the city, hotel booking sites have reported a reduction in bookings during the period.

HouseTrip.com, one of the UK-based holiday rental websites, has released statistics for its bookings during the Olympic games. Bookings for the 16-day Olympic period have decreased by 10 percent from the same period last year, while bookings immediately before and after the games have increased by 40 percent, as large numbers of visitors appeared keen to enjoy the Olympic fever, but less keen to pay astronomical accommodation charges.

The company statistics also showed that more than 50 percent of Olympic bookings were made a minimum of six-months in advance, for an average price of GBP153 per property, per night, for the period.

Arnaud Bertrand, the chief executive officer of HouseTrip, said, ‘Those who took advantage of the price gouging of London hotels early by listing their properties and pricing them affordably reaped the biggest rewards. But the big opportunities haven’t ended with the Games. In fact, the Olympics have proven to be just the tip of the iceberg.

With the higher profile of London, we anticipate that interest will continue to soar. While the games period has caused a loss from our larger domestic and French markets, the interest in London and strong London brand image created by the games has translated into booming numbers as the year continues.

We look at the Games as an investment into the future and have large-scale investment plans scheduled for the future to capitalise on this interest.’


Holiday Inn Announces Increased Occupancy for Olympics 2012 Period

UK-based InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced a boost in the sales of its Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands in the UK due, to the 2012 Olympic games.

IHG has reported that its brand images for Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express have increased with business travellers, owing to its role as the official hospitality partner for the games. As part of its Olympic programme, Holiday Inn is also the brand operating the athletes’ village, which is located close to the main stadium in Stratford, London.

The occupancy rates for the brands’ 51 properties in and around London have been at around 90 percent for the games period to date.

The company chief executive, Richard Solomons, said, ‘It’s a great opportunity to showcase both brands on a global scale and the campaigns in the run-up to the Games have driven great results.

In the UK, we have seen an 11 percent increase in consideration for the brand among business travellers.

Those guests who have seen our campaign are also 50 percent more likely to stay with us again than they were before.

We would expect 80 percent occupancy during August so the Olympics has clearly had a beneficial effect. We have new Holiday Inn and Staybridge hotels right by the Olympic park.

We have delivered good results in the first half with revpar growth from all regions through gains in both occupancy and rate.

Our brands continue to perform well and we have achieved solid underlying margin growth, resulting in increased profits and strong cash flows.’

London Hotels Report Increased Occupancy for Opening Weekend of 2012 Olympics

London hotels have reported 84 percent occupancy during the first weekend of the 2012 Olympic games.

STR Global, a company that provides research findings for the hotel industry, has reported that from July 27 to 29, 2012, hotels across London registered 84.4 percent occupancy, for an average £224.72 per room. The games commenced in London on July 27, 2012.

Elizabeth Randall, the managing director of STR Global, said, ‘Hotel performance is strong, London hotels are busy. Some but not all are full; there is room in the inn but overall hotels are in a good position.

During a normal period, hoteliers are able to anticipate demand based on known trends and can therefore plan for short-notice demand to supplement cancellations and no-shows. When an international event comes to town, these variables are more difficult to control or predict.’

Hotels in the Docklands/Greenwich area of London have registered the highest occupancy rate for the Olympic period, at 94.9 percent, followed by those in the West End with 89.0 percent occupancy. Other areas in London which reported occupancies of more than 80 percent included Earls Court/ Kensington/ Chelsea; Knightsbridge/ Pimlico/ Victoria; London North/ Camden; London South; London West End; Paddington/ Bayswater; and The City/ Shoreditch areas.

Average daily rates reached the highest in the Knightsbridge, Pimlico and Victoria areas, at £399.20 per room, followed by hotels in the West End, with £329.27 per room.

The occupancy rates include physically occupied rooms at hotels, but do not include any paid rooms that are left unoccupied.

Foreign Travellers Spend Millions on Visa During London Olympics

The 2012 Olympic games have added around $1.4 billion to the UK tourism industry, according to a report by Visa, a US-based credit card company.

International travellers have spent an additional $716.7 million using their Visa accounts while staying in the UK for the second week of the games, from July 30 to August 5.

Foreign tourists have spent the most on services, which accounted for around $139.1 million, including items such as shoe and jewellery repairs, and spas. Entertainment accounted for around $106.6 million, including theatre tickets and other attractions, while airlines have taken around $82.4 million.

Kevin Burke, the chief marketing officer of core products, for Visa, said, ‘The Olympics are a showcase for athletics and innovation, and the same goes for tourism. It is easier than ever for international travellers safely to pay for goods and services with payment cards, contactless smart cards or mobile technology.

Visa’s spend data shows that more countries are able to take advantage of these payment innovations. Tourism is a vital component of economic growth for any nation, and it is exciting that Visa payment technology is making it possible for countries and regions around the world to have a bigger impact on the global economy.’

When viewed on a country-by-country basis, the top ten countries that featured in the report for visitor spending were the US, Japan, France, Italy, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Spain, Germany, Canada, and Sweden.

The 2012 Olympic games have welcomed athletes from around 205 countries, to participate in 26 different sports, while around 11 million international visitors have arrived in the UK.

London 2012 Olympics Gather Momentum

The London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG), the agency that is responsible for all Olympic preparations in London, has reported that around five million spectators have witnessed the event to date, at the various venues across the UK.

With more than 60 percent of the event completed so far, the Olympic Park alone has seen around one million visitors since the Games began on July 27, 2012.

Visitors to the events have seen some amazing sporting action, including the setting of 85 new Olympic records and 32 new world records.

Referring to the host nation’s terrific performance in winning 6 gold medals in one day on Saturday August 4, LOCOG chairperson, Lord Sebastian Coe, said, ‘We have done everything we possibly could to create the environment for the athletes to perform.

Everything we have done is aimed at giving the athletes the best shot at that crucial moment in their lives.

For me it probably was the greatest day of sport I have ever witnessed.’

Visiting sports fans have waived flags, donned face paint and cheered their favourites home, creating a tremendous atmosphere for the world’s largest sporting event. Meanwhile, around 300,000 visitors have been watching the sports action from city centre locations across the UK where giant screens have been installed.

The spectacle continued for British sports fans on Sunday, with Andy Murray taking gold in the men’s singles tennis tournament.

LOCOG chief executive officer, Paul Deighton, said¸ ‘My overwhelming feeling is one of pride. I am very proud of the show the UK is putting on, of the tremendous performance of our athletes and I’m very proud of my team which has given its heart and soul to these Games over the last seven years.’

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels Observe Slowdown in London before 2012 Olympics

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, a UK based hotel company, has reported a low RevPar (revenue per available room) at its London properties during the days before the 2012 Olympics, according to its half yearly statements, which were released recently.

The hotel group has reported a drop of around 12.5 percent in RevPar in the first 24 days of July 2012, which is believed to be due to London having attracted fewer visitors ahead of the Olympics.

However, in the first six months of 2012, the company has reported that RevPAR in London increased by 4.3 percent to £95.76, compared to £91.79 in the six months ended June 30, 2011. The increase has been partially offset by a decrease in occupancy of 1.0 percent to 77.8 percent in first half of 2012, compared to the first half of 2011.

While the company properties in the Mayfair area of London, the Tara and the Gloucester, have reported an increase in revenue, Baileys in Knightsbridge reported lower occupancy than in the first half of 2012.

Regional UK revenues have decreased by 0.3 percent to GBP40.78 in the first half of 2012, compared to £40.90 in the first half of 2011. The average room rate has decreased by 2.0 percent to £58.78 in the first half of 2012, compared to £59.95 in the same period last year.

Kwek Leng Beng, the company chairman, said, ‘The Group delivered a successful overall performance from its hotel operations in the first half of 2012, with additional profits from our joint venture in China and good progress on asset management projects. Whilst trading is still in line with management expectations, the hospitality industry cannot be immune to the on-going Euro crisis and global economic uncertainty.

The strengthening of our management team, together with our excellent financial position, increases our ability to manage the challenges of an uncertain economic outlook and to take advantage of the strategic opportunities which the present environment is likely to offer.’

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane Offers Guests Olympic Flavours

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, a luxury hotel from the Four Seasons brand, has announced its range of Olympic offerings, which will be available while the 2012 Games are being staged in London.

The hotel’s Amaranto bar is offering several Olympics Games inspired cocktails, including The Olympic Cocktail, a blend of cognac, Cointreau, fresh orange juice and orange bitters; the Gold Rush, a golden martini; the Silver Shot, a gin-based cocktail; the Bronze Booster, a martini mix of dry sherry, Cinzano Orancio, Rosso Antico vermouth; and many others.

The Spa at Four Seasons, which has views of London over the trees of Hyde Park, is also launching a select range of Spa treatments particularly created to enhance with the country’s sporting mood.

From Go for Gold Hydrating Rituals, and Silver Stone Revival treatment, to Bronze Essentials, all spa offerings include exfoliation, aromatherapy, and body scrubs.

The hotel currently has 147 guest rooms, and 46 suites, as well as an open rooftop spa and a multi-use lounge that provides views of Hyde Park and Westminster in London.

Previously, the hotel has won the Hotel of the Year – Group award for 2012 at the Catey Awards, an annual awards ceremony organised by the Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine for the British hospitality industry.

John Stauss, the regional vice president and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, said, ‘This is an extraordinary achievement in the first year of operation in our new Hotel and it clearly reflects the dedication, professionalism and commitment that our team practices on a daily basis. Together we have achieved the ultimate award in our industry and my congratulations and gratitude go to every one of the 425 members of our team – this award is theirs.’

Transport for London Partners with Usablenet to Offer Real Time Travel Information

Transport for London (TfL), a UK-based government agency responsible for operating the transport system in Greater London, England, is partnering with technology company, Usablenet, for real-time updates and alerts for travellers in London for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The agency website is currently utilising several new features that are intended to help commuters in London to navigate around the city’s roads during the period of the Games. The agency has also released a mobile site for users on the move to access all the relevant information and gauge how the Olympics is likely to affect their journey and impact on the arrival time at their destination.

Some of the recent features included in the newly updated website are:

Olympic Specific Alerts for identifying travel hotspots and routes affected by Olympic traffic.

A Live Tube Departure Board offering real time tube travel information to the user through a smartphone’s GPS.

A Tube Map to help travellers to negotiate the underground system.

And an updated Journey Planner to help plan journeys from A to B using all of the latest travel information.

Nick Taylor, the chief executive officer of Usablenet, said, ‘With the Olympics starting this week, the city of London is preparing for a massive increase in traffic on the street and Tube. Transport for London is committed to providing mobile users with the most up-to-date and relevant information on how to plan their Olympic travel, and we are excited to partner with them to help deliver a world-class mobile experience.’


Kenya National House Announces Tourism Event in London

The Kenya Tourist Board, the official tourism board for the East African country, will be hosting tourism festivals at Kenya House in London during the 2012 London Olympics.

The agency is hosting a weekend of entertainment and activities for families on August 4 and 5, 2012, which includes cultural performances by Kenyan Masai people, a spa area for guests, safari games for families, and a golf simulator to test the users swing.

Entry to the events is complimentary and, while there, visitors can also watch Kenyan athletes participate in the 2012 Olympic games, to further enhance the Kenyan cultural experience.

On August 6, 2012, the agency will be hosting a Tourism Business Day to discuss the future of tourism in Kenya, as well as the funding of tourism initiatives, and it will be organising themed tours. The day will include guest speakers and presentations by the Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Tourist Board, and the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, with debates on various tourism issues, to include investments, trade ideas, and how best to promote the country’s heritage.

Kenya House is located near the Olympic Stadium and is offering visitors an opportunity to learn more about the country, in addition to supporting Team Kenya at the London Games.

Kenya House is open to the public until August 12, 2012, and the board is hosting a private media and trade event on each day until then. Visitors are welcome to bring their family, friends, and guests, and the house is also providing a creche facility for children, which will host Kenya-themed play activities.


Rehearsals Over: Now London Must Make the Olympic Grade

The stage is set, the entertainers are eager to take their bow, the audience has arrived in their millions from all corners of the globe, and now London must show that seven years of preparation has turned it into a well-oiled Olympic machine.

The capital’s transport system will be the first of the machine’s components to come under scrutiny as it prepares to handle the thousands of spectators for tonight’s big event, the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony. The organisers’ fingers will be crossed especially as it has already been reported that the first of the high-speed Javelin train services, that operate to and from the Olympic Park, set off five minutes late. The 7.04 scheduled train actually left at 7.09, a small discrepancy perhaps, but London knows that every delayed minute will be scrutinized and dissected by a demanding press and public. However, the subsequent journey from St. Pancras station to the Olympic park was completed in an impressive sub-seven minutes!

The Javelin trains will operate at the rate of 8 per hour between St. pancreas and Stratford, and Ebbsfleet International, while the games are taking place. Operator Southeastern expects to transport 25,000 passengers an hour at peak times.

Glitches on London’s road system that have been contributing to recent congestion have also been targeted. Some motorway links around the capital were closed last night as malfunctioning electronic signals were repaired, and officials have warned that the road system will be tested to its capacity over the coming days.

However, one Games visitor that will not be delayed by road congestion is the Olympic torch, as it is escorted over the last few miles of its long and epic journey. Whoever the top-secret bearer of the torch for the final leg of the journey turns out to be, they will be igniting not only the stadium’s Olympic flame, but also the hopes of a nation for a successful and memorable London 2012 Olympic Games.